We reach for our phones around 150 times a day—in bed, at work, and while we’re out theoretically enjoying the company of our friends. Since humans tend to lack the willpower to stop obsessively checking texts and tweets and Instagram notifications, here’s another alternative: Clothing that physically blocks your phone from working.
"The Internet and smartphones have made things more convenient, but we’re spending a lot more time in the virtual world, even when we’re with real people," says Japanese designer Kunihiko Morinaga, who designed a full collection of clothes that shield phones from radio waves. "We wanted to create clothes that would help us avoid these distractions and focus on real life."
The project was actually commissioned by the gum manufacturer Trident, which was worried that gum was starting to disappear along with human contact. "Gum no longer seems to fit in daily rituals the way it did before mobile technology and social media took over," says Masashi Kawamura, a creative director at PARTY, the agency that dreamed up the project. "We wanted gum to gain relevancy and start a conversation with emerging adults who are too distracted to even notice."
The dresses, jackets, and shirts that Morinaga created use fabric that blocks electromagnetic waves, so once you slide your phone into a pocket, it’s effectively off. If someone tries to call, the phone won’t ring.
"Just like outdoor gear uses fabrication techniques to protect people from rain or wind, we’re using fabric to protect people from a storm of information," Morinaga says.
As a bonus, if you're feeling paranoid about the fact that your smartphone is tracking your every movement, the clothes can help you go off the grid. This isn't the first product to try to do something like this; smartphone cases like the OFF Pocket work the same way. Maybe tossing a phone in your pocket is slightly easier than putting it in a case or wallet. But is it that much easier than just turning it off?